Texas braces for impeachment battle

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by SAUL ELBEIN at thehill.com

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) impeachment trial in the Lone Star State begins Tuesday, when Republicans in the state Legislature’s upper chamber will play the pivotal role in considering whether he misused his office.

It’s a potentially explosive moment for the ruling conservative coalition and the first impeachment trial in the state’s modern history. Paxton faces 20 counts of corruption. 

Paxton’s impeachment by Texas’s GOP-majority House in May has exacerbated a brewing power struggle in that coalition — pitting the state’s once-dominant business conservative wing, many of whom favor the attorney general’s conviction, against an ascendant movement of self-described Christian nationalists, who are fighting to throw out the impeachment charges entirely.

To survive politically, Paxton will have to be acquitted on every count by one-third of the Senate — meaning that, even if all 12 Democrats vote to convict him, he will be acquitted unless nine Republicans join them. Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton (R), will be present but not allowed to vote. 

If enough Republicans vote to convict, even on one charge, Ken Paxton will be barred from office. 

“Anyone that votes against Ken Paxton in this impeachment is risking their entire political career and we will make sure that is the case,” right-wing activist Jonathan Stickland, who runs the pro-Paxton Defend Texas Liberty PAC, told Steve Bannon in an interview last week. 

Other conservatives in the state, however, have decried attempts by this faction to get the case thrown out before the trial could even begin.

“Republicans once believed in the rule of law,” former GOP Gov. Rick Perry wrote in a blistering editorial in The Wall Street Journal. “That’s why it’s shocking to see some Republicans — through a coordinated effort of texts, emails and social-media posts — working to delegitimize the impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Ken Paxton.”

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